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Archbishop of Canterbury praises the Armed Forces and prays for a peaceful 2024 in New Year message

by Kelly Valencia

The Archbishop of Canterbury has praised the Armed Forces in his annual New Year message recorded in RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

Broadcasted on BBC 1, Most Rev Justin Welby praised their service during the King’s Coronation not just because of “their displays of pageantry" but because they, "like many, many others in the country", embodied service.

He said: “Here at RAF Brize Norton, almost 6,000 service personnel are living out that oath every day, working to keep us safe and the country secure, delivering humanitarian aid following natural disasters, like the earthquake in Turkey last year, or supporting civilians in the midst of conflict in places like the Middle East.

"We're learning more and more how the horrors and traumas of war impact service personnel, sometimes long after. But there are also traumas for their loved ones.

"Families across the country feel the absence of relatives and those they love who are serving their country abroad.

"We fear for those of our fellow citizens who risk their lives defending and protecting the vulnerable and ensuring security."

Archbishop Justin also urged people to "stand with those suffering because of war and to seek to make peace" making reference to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war.  

He said: "Wars seem everywhere at the moment. Wars we know about, wars forgotten.

"I've seen for myself the ongoing human cost of war. In Ukraine I went to Bucha where evidence of atrocities was found. I've met Ukrainian refugees, most recently in Georgia and Romania: families having to start again in a new country.

"I've met refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh (a territory disputed between Azerbaijan and Armenia) after they left their homes because of conflict. And in Jerusalem last October I sat and listened to some of those traumatised by war, Palestinian and Israeli.

"Jesus Christ tells us to stand with those suffering because of war, and to seek to make peace."


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